But what’s worse is that we could have a situation where Obama wins a majority of the pledged delegates and the super delegates decide to hand the nomination to Hillary anyway. This would cause an all out civil war in the party, and would make Hillary one of the weakest nominees in modern Democratic politics, virtually assuring a President John McCain.
Here’s the catch: The party understands this, as do the super delegates. Though the above scenario is possible, it’s exceptionally unlikely. Elaine Kamarck, a senior DNC official and super delegate herself, told me Thursday that it would never happen. “Super delegates are cowards – we would never do that.” This, by the way, from a woman who has endorsed Hillary Clinton. Chuck Todd, political director for NBC News said on Saturday that super delegates are likely to follow the pledged delegate winner, especially if that winner is also ahead of McCain in the polls. And because more than half of the super delegates have yet to pledge, it’s likely that this would be more than enough for Obama to maintain his lead, even when super delegates are added to the mix.
So what does that all mean? Counter-intuitively, the fact that, mathematically, the super delegates get to decide the race means they don’t actually matter. If the super delegates are unwilling to throw the race against the public will, then they are just going to support the winner of the pledged delegates. So that should be the only number we care about during the analysis: the number of pledged delegates.
I completely agree. It's very hard for me to imagine the nightmare scenario coming to pass.
Update: David Axelrod's comments (see below), which the Clinton campaign was so exuberant about today, could just be a reflection of this basic reality. That is, Axelrod can testify to the good judgment of the superdelegates because he knows they're almost certainly going to just ratify the pledged delegate count anyway.